South Korea Penalizes Google with $32M for Restricting Game Developers

Google is being fined by South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission (KFTG+) for blocking developers from releasing mobile video games on a Korean competitor platform called One Store. This move could potentially harm the business of One Store, and Google is now facing some major repercussions.

This alleged ban has lead to a decrease in the amount of new games released in the Korean market, and an increase in forking and piracy of games. Google is facing scrutiny from both Korean government officials and game companies who feel that they were not explicitly informed about this policy change.

One Store is a competing mobile app store to Google Play. It was founded by three South Korean telcos and internet firm Naver, who are hoping to see it succeed where Google has failed.

Given that Google’s local market share in the mobile Android app market increased to approximately 90% to 95% in 2018, up from around 80% to 85% in 2016, while One Store’s market share accounted for about 5% to 10% in 2018, which fell from 15% to 20%, it can be inferred that One Store may be losing steam and has little chance of catching up. Google has always seemed like the more dominant player in the mobile app industry and this trend seems likely only to continue.

The Korean antitrust watchdog stated that they are taking this step in order to ensure fair competition in the app market, as Google has been shown to abuse its dominant position. This move may put smaller companies at a disadvantage, but it is part of an overall effort to make sure that everyone has an equal playing field.

KTFC said that Google Play and One Store generate more than 90% of domestic sales from selling games, but the effect of Google on game industry companies has been significant. This is because, aside from the large video game makers like NCSoft, Netmarble, and Nexon who make more money from digital downloads than physical sales, smaller and mid-sized developers rely largely on online storefronts for their revenue. With increased competition from Google Play and One Store in recent years due to their larger market share and wider availability of mobile games , these developers have had to adapt or face closure.

Although Google has not been found guilty of any wrongdoings, the KFTG+ issued a final written decision stating that “Google has cooperated diligently with the KFTG+’s investigation and deliberation process for the past five years and believes that there has been no violation of the law.” This puts heavy pressure on Google to take whatever measures necessary to protect its name and image within Korean technological circles.

This massive fine from the KFTG+ reflects Google’s continued violation of antitrust laws. However, despite this penalty, the Android OS remains wildly popular, with over 1.5 billion active devices in use around the world.

Many mobile game developers in Korea owe their success to Google Play. The search engine giant has helped these developers by providing them with the resources they need to make their games successful, including the promotional ads and behind-the-scenes assistance that have helped them gain a global audience. In turn, these Korean developers have been able to share their creative talents and improve the quality of games available on Google Play, helping to make it one of the most popular destinations for mobile gamers world-wide.

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Max Chen

Max Chen is an AI expert and journalist with a focus on the ethical and societal implications of emerging technologies. He has a background in computer science and is known for his clear and concise writing on complex technical topics. He has also written extensively on the potential risks and benefits of AI, and is a frequent speaker on the subject at industry conferences and events.

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